Koh Chang, located in the Gulf of Thailand near the border with Cambodia, is the country's second-largest island and one of its most captivating destinations. Known for its lush tropical landscapes, pristine beaches, and vibrant coral reefs, Koh Chang offers a perfect blend of natural beauty and adventure. The island is part of the Mu Ko Chang National Park, ensuring the preservation of its diverse ecosystems. Visitors can explore dense rainforests, cascading waterfalls, and hidden coves, creating a haven for nature enthusiasts. Beyond its stunning scenery, Koh Chang also boasts a range of activities, from snorkeling and diving to trekking and elephant rides. The island has developed a balanced mix of tranquility and modern amenities, making it an ideal escape for those seeking both relaxation and exploration in the heart of Thailand's marine wonders.

History of Koh Chang

Koh Chang's history is rich and diverse, reflecting the broader historical tapestry of Thailand and the surrounding region. The island's name, which means "Elephant Island" in Thai, is believed to be derived from its elephant-shaped headland. Historically, Koh Chang served as a safe harbor for sailors traveling between the Thai coast and Cambodia, and its rugged terrain and dense forests made it a strategic location.

During the Ayutthaya period (1351–1767), Koh Chang and the surrounding areas were under the influence of the Khmer Empire. The island later became a part of the Thai kingdom as the borders shifted over time. In the 19th century, during the reign of King Rama IV and Rama V, the Thai government established its authority over the island and encouraged settlements.

In the 20th century, Koh Chang remained relatively secluded, with limited infrastructure and access. However, in the late 1970s and 1980s, tourism began to take root as backpackers discovered the island's pristine beauty. Over the years, Koh Chang has undergone significant development to accommodate the growing number of visitors while efforts have been made to balance tourism with environmental preservation.

Today, Koh Chang is not only a popular tourist destination but also a protected national park. Its history, from its ancient roots to modern tourism development, contributes to the island's unique charm and allure.

Top attractions in Koh Chang Island

Koh Chang Island offers a plethora of attractions, ranging from stunning natural landscapes to cultural sites and outdoor activities

White Sand Beach (Hat Sai Khao): This is one of the most popular and developed beaches on the island, featuring soft white sand and clear blue waters. It's an ideal spot for sunbathing, water sports, and beachfront dining.

White Sand Beach, known as Hat Sai Khao in Thai, is one of the most popular and developed beaches on Koh Chang, an island in the Gulf of Thailand

The beach lives up to its name with powdery white sand and clear blue waters

Klong Plu Waterfall: Nestled in the heart of the island, Klong Plu is the largest waterfall in Koh Chang. The trek to the waterfall takes you through lush jungle, rewarding you with a refreshing cascade and a natural pool for swimming.

Klong Plu Waterfall is one of the most popular and accessible waterfalls on Koh Chang, an island in the Gulf of Thailand

The lush rainforest setting adds to the overall natural beauty of the waterfall.

Koh Chang National Park: Encompassing more than 80% of the island, the national park is home to diverse flora and fauna, including tropical rainforests and unique wildlife. Visitors can explore hiking trails, viewpoints, and pristine beaches within the park.

 Koh Chang National Park is a protected area encompassing the majority of Koh Chang, the second-largest island in Thailand

Koh Chang National Park is a preserving the natural beauty of the island

Bang Bao Fishing Village: This picturesque fishing village features stilted houses extending into the sea. Bang Bao is a hub for seafood restaurants, shops, and boat tours, including trips to nearby islands.

Bang Bao Fishing Village is a picturesque and traditional village located on the southwestern coast of Koh Chang

The long wooden pier lined with stilt houses of Bang Bao fishing village

Klong Son Temple (Wat Klong Son): This Buddhist temple is one of the oldest on the island and provides insight into the local culture and spirituality. The temple grounds offer tranquility and scenic surroundings.

Wat Klong Son is situated in the Klong Son village on the northern part of Koh Chang. Klong Son is one of the villages you might pass through if you're traveling to Koh Chang from the mainland

Unique architecture of Klong Son temple

What to do in Koh Chang Island

Snorkeling and Diving: Koh Chang boasts vibrant coral reefs and diverse marine life. Snorkeling and diving are popular activities, with excellent sites such as Koh Rang National Park and the nearby Koh Kood Island.

Snorkeling and diving are popular water activities, especially in destinations with vibrant marine ecosystems like Koh Chang

Koh Chang is surrounded by clear waters with coral reefs and diverse marine life

Elephant Trekking: While ethical concerns surround traditional elephant trekking, some establishments on Koh Chang offer responsible and humane elephant encounters. Visitors can enjoy elephant rides in natural settings that prioritize the well-being of the animals.

Elephant trekking has been a popular tourist activity in various parts of Thailand, including Koh Chang

The elephant trekking on Koh Chang Island

Adventure Activities: Koh Chang is a haven for adventure seekers. Visitors can engage in activities such as zip-lining through the jungle, ATV rides, and jungle trekking to explore the island's diverse landscapes.

Nightlife at Lonely Beach: For those seeking a lively atmosphere after dark, Lonely Beach is the hub of nightlife on Koh Chang. It features beach bars, live music, and a vibrant party scene.

Enjoy cuisine on the island: Don't overlook the seafood offerings on Koh Chang island, where the dishes are meticulously crafted to achieve a perfect balance of aromatic spices. For a dining experience with a view of the expansive ocean, head to the central section of White Sand Beach, where you can savor specially prepared grilled dishes at the beachfront barbecue restaurant.

Koh Chang offers a diverse and delightful culinary experience, blending traditional Thai flavors with international influences

Grilled lobster

Traveling cost in Koh Chang Island


  • Hostels, guesthouses: 500 - 1,500 THB per night
  • Mid-range hotels or resorts: 1,500 - 4,500 THB per night
  • Luxury resorts: 4,500 THB and above per night


  • Street food and local eateries: 60 - 150 THB per meal
  • Casual restaurants: 150 - 450 THB per meal
  • Fine dining: 450 THB and above per meal


  • Songthaew: 30 - 100 THB for short distances
  • Motorbike rental: 150 - 450 THB per day
  • Car rental: 900 THB and above per day
  • Boat transfers: Prices vary based on destination; check with local operators


  • National Park entrance fees: 60 - 150 THB
  • Snorkeling or diving excursions: 600 - 1,500 THB and above
  • Island-hopping tours: 600 - 1,500 THB and above
  • Adventure activities (ziplining, trekking): 600 - 1,500 THB and above

Transportation to and from Koh Chang

  • Bus from Bangkok to the ferry terminal: 300 - 600 THB
  • Ferry to Koh Chang: 150 - 300 THB
  • Flight from Bangkok to Trat: Prices vary; can be higher but save time

Best time to visit Koh Chang

Koh Chang experiences three distinct seasons, with the cool season extending from November to the end of February, attracting the highest number of visitors due to its clear skies and tranquil seas. Despite the crowds, this period is optimal for those who appreciate such bustling environments. The hot season spans three months, from March to April, featuring temperatures consistently exceeding 33 degrees Celsius and heightened humidity. April and May, popular vacation months for Thais, can also bring significant crowds to tourist areas, particularly during Songkran, the Thai New Year, celebrated from April 13 to 15.

Subsequently, the island transitions into the rainy season, spanning late May to the end of October. During this period, travel and accommodation costs decrease noticeably. Although the weather becomes unpredictable, this season offers a quieter ambiance, making it an ideal time for those seeking a more relaxed and peaceful experience on the island.

Read more at: Koh Lipe Island.

How to get to Koh Chang

Traveling to Koh Chang offers various transportation options, providing flexibility for different preferences and schedules. From Tha Thammachat and Tha Centrepoint, a boat journey to Koh Chang typically takes 30 to 45 minutes. Additionally, you can opt for a bus ride from Bangkok to the wharf, which takes approximately 6 hours. Alternatively, boats departing from Koh Kood (around 5 hours) or Koh Mak (1 hour) offer scenic routes to the island. The quickest but pricier choice involves flying from Bangkok to Trat.

Once on the island, getting around is straightforward. The primary mode of transportation is the songthaew, a passenger taxi that operates from the ferry terminal, making stops at all West Coast beaches. Songthaews are available throughout the day, but it's important to note that fares may increase after 10 pm. For a more independent exploration, renting a motorbike is a popular option, with numerous rental facilities offering affordable rates across the island